The Godsmen Apocalypse

Following Through
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Decisions
Some are easier than others

The party begins a serious discussion on leaving the current mission to attempt going to the Catalogues of Enlightenment on Mechanus.

They decide to rest another day in order to have air walk ready and go to the cavern that Caden Ras told them to visit.

Alexis awoke to discover she was covered in lumps and feverish. Purifier Henderson again identified her as being corrupted and healed her of the corruption.

They deliberated for a while and left at 10 am during a light snowfall.
Big Bad John carries all but KB (who had assumed the form of a shadow dragon through alter self)and walks through the air for several miles in order to reach their destination. Purifier Henderson believes that there is something wrong with the way snow is falling around them. The party, unable to see what he’s talking about, believes that journeying through this tainted land has addled his senses.

After a little over an hour the party finds the entrance to the cavern they desire nestled at the base of a mountain. The party approaches and Purifier Henderson leaps off in order to glide his way down. He continues into the cave along with KB as Big Bad John lands gingerly.

The party discovers a layer of crushed ice covering the ground in this cavern, it provides enough texture to walk on, but to run requires a bit of effort not to fall. The walls are naturally formed and the thin layer of ice covering the stone allows the light to carry deep into the cavern. KB points out that the cavern’s walls have been routinely brushed against, but that there are no tracks in the snow.

KB scouts ahead and discovers a beautiful iced over lake. The walls are relatively smooth in this new area. Overhead there are a number of stalactites still occasionally dripping onto the surface of the iced lake. A giant stalactite, well over thirty feet around, protrudes from the ceiling at the far end of this new area. An iced over rope bridge stretches across the water to a landing beneath the stalactite. In the lake were several stalactites that had fallen into the lake and been locked in place as the lake refroze. The jagged edges of the stalactites peeking above the ice are covered in a layer of frost. Purifier Henderson believes that large frogs perched on several of the fallen stalactites. The party disregards his observation, and even chides him.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, KB crossed the bridge partway and uses his wand of_spontaneous search_. Much to his surprise, KB discovers that there are indeed Ice Toads (Frostburn) on several of the fallen stalactites. The party slowly backs out of the room and Big Bad John practices for a while to change the maneuvers he has prepared and the party prepares themselves to kill the frogs.

The party had intended to kill the frogs because they were existing as the party believes something about this place to be a trap. After considering what they were about to do, KB comes to the conclusion that the frogs were not attack them and the team may wish to simply walk by.

Purifier Henderson uses his trained ability to discover that the taint of evil was not present in this area. This is the first area that has not been tainted since they’ve come to this land. However the party does not make much of that fact and continues on to the end of the bridge.

They discovered that the platform at the edge of the bridge was actually a large stalagmite that had been shorn off at the top in order to create a flattened surface beneath the giant stalactite. After a quick search the party finds a climbers kit. Purifier Henderson flies up and sees that people have clearly been climbing the giant stalagtite.

The party continues to tease the purifier with regard to him “seeing dragons”, but nonetheless permit Purifier Henderson to cast his final air walk and allow Big Bad John to carry the team upward.

They follow the giant stalactite to the top and discover that it is adjoined by a larger cavern. They put down on the new ledge and take in the surroundings.

The new cavern is quite wide, with several large sheets of ice intentionally formed to cover the path. Alexis breaks away part of the ice at her feet in order to throw it through the sheet. However KB stops her, going up to the ice sheet to push on it. He pushes it until it breaks and he gets covered by shards of ice. He becomes seriously wounded, with his own blood gushing out of an artery in his leg which was nearly severed off from the shards. Alexis laughs at their charismatic leader while Purifier Henderson improvises a way to stop the bleeding using pressure and ice.

Big Bad John decides he has had enough and approaches the second ice sheet. He stares the ice sheet down, concentrating hard before striking it with his weapon. He is promptly hit as a cascade of ice shards come crashing down around him. The searing pain of the injury sends him into a bloodthirsty frenzy. Unable to control himself, he focuses his gaze on the remaining sheet of ice he bellows a ferocious roar and crashes through it. As the shards of ice cut his skin away he comes face to face with a White Dragon (Monster Manual).

In his heated frenzy he charges at it, causing the dragon to unleash a blast of cold. The cold is absorbed by the resist elements spell that Purifier Henderson had previously cast. Big Bad John leaps up to strike the dragon even through the fear within him.

Alexis believes that maybe this was the dragon that the party was supposed to speak with. Knowing that her uncle hates evil dragons, she grapples him to prevent him from attacking. This immediately causes consternation in KB who moves ahead to assist Big Bad John.

The dragon uses his spell like ability to cover the area in fog. Big Bad John wanders in the fog while the dragon swoops out to combat those still remaining at the mouth of the cavern in front of the drop off. The dragon attempts to blast them with a gust of wind.

The party endures the blast without being pushed over the edge, and only some of the party is affected by the frightening display of the combat prowess of a white dragon.

Purifier Henderson convinces Alexis to let him go, she does, and he flies up to the dragon, scoring a successful hit with his Rod of Sanctity (Heroes of Horror) that deals negligible damage.

The dragon retreats into the mist again. KB calls out “If ye be good, reveal thyself!” The dragon responds back in draconic, “I defend these lands, you are clearly in league with the enemy, you are not welcome here.”

Big Bad John attempts to pursue the creature but becomes lost in the fog. Eventually he becomes tired and comes down.

After the fog fades, the voice of KB speaks out: “That was a bad idea.”

Epilogue
The party chastises Alexis on her decisions. They liken her actions to what it would have been like if they had prevented Purifier Henderson from assisting her when she was getting her bones drank.

After hearing their words (and a heated talk with Caven), Alexis approaches the rest of the party and offers her apologies for her actions. She goes on to inform them that she is in their debt until they decide that she has undone her slights against them. With this new pledge she receives forgiveness.

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Death's Embrace
It's quite chilly.

The party meets up with New Steve who gives them a gift of 10K gold worth of platinum pieces.

The party leaves to go shopping. Big Bad John returns and donates 3,000 gold to New Steve for whatever he wants. He offers up a favor for advice in the future. Big Bad John declines to take it at this time and the party reunites nearby at the Salty Baboon.

KB had been continually working the crowd with his performance arts.

The party heads off to dinner, seated among their many followers. They have a brief chat with Captain Ahab, New Steve, and St. Lucky Pete prior to Sir Davian Witchguard joining them. The conversation is light at best.

KB attempts to cast prestidigitation on the food of New Steve who promptly counterspells him before saying “I’m not sure what you think our relationship is, but we are not at the level where you can cast spells on what I eat.” He then leaves.

The party resolves to go solve the problem of the undead to the north, but first they squander nearly a week.

Gravier crafts for 4 days. BBJ plays sports with the locals.

KB performs for four days letting the whole world know what they’re up to.

The Purifier speaks with his niece about her drinking problem.

Gravier secures a ship and sends his people to Beach Hallow to scout the area. They’re seeing how things are going and then return to the isle in order to let you know. The journey will take well over a week.

After settling their affairs the group decides to finally take the mission officially from New Steve to go put a stop to the undead menace. New Steve warned them that there was a good chance one of them would be turned to ice forever.

They convinced New Steve that they would not die. He gave the stick to Gravier.

Steve opens the portal for them. He gives more cryptic advice saying to give his regards to a friend of his. The party notices that there is a force interfering with the portal and they feel greasy from having gone through, but arrive in one piece outside of Wintermoor. The feel of evil was palpable in the air as they approached the town.

They approached Wintermoor, located a large crystalline greenhouse, and entered in. KB shifts out of his halfling form into his Dragonwrought Kobold form and people freak out. Gravier talks them down but tensions seem to be running very high.

While there they meet Trolis Vedal who proves to be most antagonistic. The help he does give is that he believes the one raising the dead is a Godsman. He indicates that he’s trying to save the town by reestablishing a food supply so he is unable to pursue the necromancer or necromancers. He also recommends the group undergo some sort of trial to become accepted, but he does not offer much help explaining it.

The party does inquire about the nearest Godsmen headquarters and Vedal explains he had a building on the far side of the lake. The party heads there and while searching the place discovers a letter addressed to “Friends of Steve” which says:

Welcome friends of Steve. I believe we should meet tomorrow afternoon.

There was room to respond in writing. A nearby owl took the letter somewhere and the party hunkered down, waiting to see what would happen.

The following evening (after an amusing moment where Miss Monroe became tainted and was subsequently healed) they heard a knocking at their door. Big Bad John opened it to see a figure growing a sickly green and silver. He was a hunched and doubled over Dragonborn of Bahamut that constantly scratched at his body underneath the rags he wore.

After a display of his etherealness he prompted the party with the question “whose side are you on?” The party dipped and dodged the question until he elaborated. He spoke on many things. He speaks of gods of death, he asks what side they’re on. He says he’s on the side of saving the world through whatever means necessary. To the servant of Wee Jas he says “I’m sorry for your loss.” He says “lots of things die lately. Gods. Men. Others.”

Any conversation about cleansing the taint was meant with “I’m using that. I need it.”
At one time when asked what the party would do to save the world from the rampaging demons they mistook Asmodeus for leading the demons. The figure exclaimed: “Wait, you don’t know who Asmodeus is?! You may not be who I’m looking for. Did you not reform the project?”

After the conversation led outside he gave Purifier Henderson a scroll that said “See invisibility” which the purifier used on himself and he saw over a score of skeletal dragons flying about the air watching what they were doing.

Ultimately the group seemed to decline showing any semblance of being on page with the stranger, who continued to portray his side in a positive light.

He instructs the party to head to a particular mountain range to visit a dragon in order to become accepted in the land known as Death’s Embrace. This causes no small amount of discomfort among the party as to the vagueness of his statement.

After leaving the party discusses all that was revealed. The proposal is made that Bahumat among other gods may be dead, which upsets purifier Henderson (a dragonborn of Bahamut). To test this theory they have the purifier cast Commune and he goes to address his deity directly.

Recollection

(The following is a transcript taken by a family member as Purifier Henderson recounted the time he met his god.)

Well this was a day full of mysteries, I must admit. We traveled into the far north only to find that it has been covered with Taint. The earth itself is infected with it, throwing it up like a man spewing bile. Only the purest of souls among us are safe from its wretched touch. Even then, the air feels thick and oily and only my time in the Godsmen test has made me feel prepared for it.

When we arrived at the barbarian camp we were sent to find, I discovered that most of the people there were infected with Taint as well, enough that the sheer numbers among them alone could keep me busy for months as I healed them along with the other cleric of Bahamut I met. When I get the chance, I hope to try to create a place of hallowed ground so that they may at least sleep without fear of Taint.

I really must start recruiting more Purifiers before much longer or we well never stand a chance at stopping the veritable flood of Taint now flowing into the world, but I digress.

A Godsman already among them found us and guided us towards the former Godsmen base in the area, which we left for soon after. I was never more glad for my Endure Elements spell as I was then, as I had no winter clothes and I’m sure I would have frozen to death long before I reached our destination without it.

Once we arrived, we were met by another Dragonborn, Caden Ras, an enigma if I’d ever seen one. Our party determined that he was quite evil, yet he remained Dragonborn. He was also covered with Taint, yet when I tried to save him from it, he withdrew and claimed he was using it. An impossibly, of course, as Taint can only destroy these it comes into contact with.

He claimed that we were covered with the scent of evil, then went on to ask how we wanted to save the world. He threatened us with over a score of dragons that he only allowed me to see, then left once he had a wisp of a promise from us that we would consider helping him. Truly a thing full of contradictions.

This, of course, is where things began to go wrong.

The party decided that since Caden Ras was evil, Bahamut must be dead. Blasphemy, of course, but I could not convince any of them of that. In fact, they went on to try and convience me of their theories with talk of how they knew that their own their own gods were dead and how they were fine with that.

I decided that the only response to this could be to pray to Bahamut for answers.

At first I only wished to peace that Bahamut yet lived, but upon further discussion we created several questions that we hoped could bring comfort and guide our way.

The next morning, after I’d prepared myself with the aid of my teammates, I went into a meditative state and went to speak with my god.

I immediately found myself in a massive tree, and on a nearby branch was the unmistakable form of my god. I thought about how this answered my own question, but realized that this might not be Bahamut, but instead a creature in its form, so I rallied my courage and spoke with it.

“Are you alive,” I asked first.

“I yet live,” replied the creature in Bahamut’s form. At the time I assumed that this meant that it was Bahamut and that of course he was alive, but I now realize that this might have just been an exact answer, if not a true one.

“Are there any new undead gods?” I asked next.

“There are no new gods,” it replied, which, while interesting, wasn’t what I wanted to know.

I rephrased my question. “Have any of the gods turned undead?”

“Some gods have turned, not undead, it replied. Looking back this too wasn’t quite as helpful as I would have liked, but I decided to go on.

“Are either Pelor or Wee Jas dead?” I asked for my friends whose gods they were.

“They live, in a fashion,” was his cryptic response. Still, alive was alive so I asked no more about them.

I thought about the land around us and how filled with Taint it was and asked “Can this land be cured of Taint?”

He shrugged and said “That remains to be seen,” which I suppose is the closest a god will ever come to saying “Fuck if I know” to a mortal. Disheartening.

I confirmed that Caden Ras was a Dragonborn, then asked if there was more than one traitor asking the Godsmen, as KB suspected.

“You are all traitors,” was his reply. Ominous, cryptic and, yet again, unhelpful.

My last question, a more personal one, was if my niece was as much of a whore as the party served to make her out to be.

“Tend to your family,” he said, and my eyes narrowed as I began to prepare myself to awaken to an unhappy talk.

Before I awoke, though, it had one last thing to say and advice, freely given, from the gods, was not something to ignore.

“Stop helping Asmodeus.”

Then I awoke and relayed all I had learned.

Relief and excitement filed the room as I gave my answers, cryptic as they were, until I get to the final thing he said. Then a heavy silence fell over all of us as we took in the fact that we, a party of good-aligned folk, were apparently now actively aiding Asmodeus, Lord of all Devils.

Yes. Curiouser and curiouser.

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Being Forged
Emerging stronger

Following the deadly combat encounter with the arrow demons (MM3) and bonedrinkers (MM3) the party took a moments respite to regain their bearings.

Caven Henderson mourned the death of his niece Alexis Monroe. He mourned her death, knowing that her test in this life was over. Resurrection was out of the question as it violates the (current) principles of the Believers of the Source. Nevertheless he spent the hour preparing her body for burial.

Darian Gravier and KB studied the fountain present in the room. They racked their mind over what the different colored waters could represent. They puzzled over the phrase inscribed on the fountain: Life is a test. What do you seek from this test?

Benedict Cumberbatch delivered a glass chalice that he discovered with his keen owl eyes.

The inside of the chalice was inscribed with several sentences, each vaguely colored according to the colors of water cascading down the tentacles of the glass fountain.

There were nine pursuits listed.
I seek to gain power
I seek to embody grace
I seek resiliency
I seek to attain knowledge
I seek to inspire others
I seek to gain wealth
I seek to survive
I seek to learn

The party considered their walk in life and pledged themselves and drank accordingly:

Kalira vowed that she sought to attain knowledge from this life.
KB and Gravier vowed that they sought to learn from this life.
The massive Owl vowed that he sought to embody grace in this life.
Big Bad John vowed that he sought resiliency from this life.
Cavan Henderson vowed that he sought to inspire others in this life.

No one felt any different from drinking. Why would they? They were already in their test.

The party progressed from this room and elected to rest after the foul stench faded to a memory.

The following day they continued onward. After descending down a roped hole the group came upon a dark wooden and steel door with no visible entry. Their first inclination was to destroy their way through the door, but after a few moments of thought the group instead decided to search the immediate area. Doing so revealed a lever that opened the door. Upon pulling the lever down, the group was blasted with an unearthly heat that took the breath straight from their bodies. Immediately their skin was burned and their body began to overheat. As the fatigue set in the one who opened the lever let their hand slip and the door snapped closed again leaving the party drenched in sweat and suffering from heatstroke.

KB offered up an armor gem that he had in his possession that provided some protection against the heat. Gravier took him up on the offer and as the others returned up the pit he girded himself to enter the unearthly heat. He used the excess climbing rope to tie the lever down and entered into the brilliant room.

The rather small room was swelteringly hot. Spiraling along the walls in the room were long stone grooves that protrude from the wall. The grooves appeared to be containing lava, with a steady stream flowing slowly along the grooves into a large metal container at the far end of the room. The container appears to have writing around the base of it.
Above the dark colored wood floor of the room was a large platform suspended by chains, anchored into the wall. The platform is suspended covered a significant portion of the room. It provided some shade, but given the heat of the room Gravier was doubtful that it helped very much.

As Gravier approached the large metal container two large eyes appeared along with a mouth that grew onto the side. When Gravier was close enough to read the phrase Progress unlocks the way (in Dwarvish) the eyes focused on him and the voice spoke out to him. While it was speaking, Gravier cast detect magic and, along with his skill in spellcraft, he identified the presence of a single Magic Mouth spell on the container, and also a Magic Jar spell active deeper in the container.

The voice identified himself as Erik Stephenson and the two spoke briefly. Gravier eventually became too warm and had to leave. He promised to Stephenson that he would return the following day with a story for him.

The party elected for a full day’s rest where Purifier Henderson sought new spells to resist and endure the elements.

The party entered the room again empowered by divine support. Gravier made due on his promise and was moved to recite the story of the The Pact Primeval. As he regaled this story the rest of the party enacted their plan to chop down the supporting platform.

This endeavor did not bear fruit as nothing changed following the falling of the platform. KB took this time to speak with Erik Stephenson about his life and learned about an individual named Lord Baggins whom KB believed to be responsible for Erik’s current predicament. Also during this conversation it was uncovered that Erik does not posses the sense of sight at this time. Yet the group did not make any connections with that. Before KB was able to pursue his line of thought the party had decided to enact another plan.

Big Bad John does not have time for puzzles. He took up Alexis Monroe’s adamantine greatsword in order to cleave the metal container in twain. Mid swing he found his body paralyzed. KB, using is proficiency with regard to spells, recognized that Big Bad John had been affected by the spell Hold Monster.

Erik Stephenson began to panic, crying out for the party not to harm him inside the container. KB calmed him as the party continued attempting to cleave the container.

After repeated paralyzations Purifier Henderson realized that the eyes were focusing intently on Big Bad John whenever he would bring his attack. This prompted Gravier to cast glitterdust on the eyes.

Although they were not blinded by the attack, they clearly didn’t like the assault. This is evident because the eyes flew out from the container revealing that they were attached to one another but not anchored in the container. The set of eyes was identified as a Lurking Strangler (MM3), a pet often owned by beholders.

Purifier Henderson, filled with righteous fury, immediately flew up and smote the creature. Curiously the creature did not attempt to escape its fate.

Following this scuffle Gravier continued to puzzle on the phrase written into the side of the container. He realized that the phrase Progress unlocks the way may intentionally place emphasis on the word “progress” as a word. He eventually concluded that the solution was to get Erik Stephenson to say the word “progress” in the dwarven tongue.

Doing so resulted in the metal container splitting open, pouring lava all over the room and revealing a Conflagration Ooze (MM3), an intelligent gelatinous creature formed of fire and hate. The party’s hopes were placed on Big Bad John and KB as smoke filled the room from the floor being melted under the heat of the lava. Big Bad John (empowered by divine strength given to him by Purifier Henderson) went toe to toe with the ooze and KB used his spellpower to delay the actions of the Ooze. The creature was overwhelmed by the power of the party working in tandem and Big Bad John had to nimbly dive through the air to avoid being covered in the remnants of the creature.

As the lava continued to spread the door was sealed off leaving most of the party in the room. Panic never set in, as they were safely in the air via levitate which had been cast over 30 times from the same wand during these events.

The dark wooden floor began to give way underneath the heat and the voice of Erik Stephenson called out for salvation. Disregarding his own safety, Purifier Henderson plunged his hand into the lava in order to rescue their new acquaintance’s gemmed form.

As the floor continued to melt it was revealed that underneath the room was a deep stone chamber leading down into the earth. Levitating down this revealed a final corridor leading to the final chamber of this area which was inhabited by a remnant the one who created the arch by which the group entered in the first place.

In the final room the party came face to face with Steve the Great, the founder of their division of Godsmen. Steve ushered the party to complete this current test by passing through a running waterfall within the room. After submerging themselves and passing through, he congratulated the party on being forged and emerging stronger.

He gave them various Emblems which matched the corresponding color of virtue that the party had committed themselves unto. Before leaving, Purifier Henderson delivered Erik Stephenson to Steve the Great. Steve was grateful for the company of Erik and allowed the party the opportunity to speak with him. Holding the reminders in their hand the party engaged in discussion with their superior, truly an opportunity that would never come again.

Steve did not seem to know what the large crystal devices were that unleashed taint upon the world, but recommended hunting down the deity Vecna for the answer to that secret.

The party decided against continuing to bother the legend and simply expressed their gratitude for his life.

Following the enlightening discussion he empowered the party with the ability to use the portal sticks keyed to his arch. Purifier Henderson took the liberty of breaking the inaugural stick and creating a portal by which the party could return to the Isle of Freedom from which they came.

Upon reaching the other side the party was surprised to discover a living Alexis Monroe who was deeply distraught over failing her test. Purifier Henderson was overjoyed to see her once again and they embraced.

The party took a moment to consider their next move.

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The Adventure Continues
With a new group.

(After quite the hiatus this campaign has resumed, being comprised of several people who have played in this campaign and a newcomer. The current party opted to canonically be the previous party who had gone through Act 1. This means that this current party got some of their notable loot as well as additional benefits.

Of course this means some ret-conning is in order as that group died completely while attempting to visit Mistedge to discover the fate of Jovak. We’ve decided to keep that mission as part of the history, but we will have to play through it flashback style to see what happened. Welcome back!)

We begin midway through the party’s most recent endeavor. The party had decided to all attune themselves to the portal sticks given by the Godsmen. They had been told to expect being gone a week.

Much like the first time they entered into this portal realm (chronicled briefly here) they were given instructions prior to entering. This time they were told this by New Steve: “Find your purpose. Engage in your test. Be forged, and emerge stronger.”

This session begins with the party having been in this pocket dimension for quite some time. Urged onward by their own convictions they have continued to press forward through many trials. Most recently they have come from wandering through a darkened ravine, rife with swarms of rats. The ongoing challenge has left many of them weary.

Upon finally discovering a way out of the ravine, they pressed on toward this new area. Having been in silence for so long, apart from the sound of rats always seemingly out of sight, they were keen to pick up the sounds of running water coming from a room up ahead. As they approached they also began to notice the smell of rot. The smell is remarkable for they discovered previously that slaying foes resulted in them dissipating rather than remaining as corpses. Upon smelling this foulness the party decided to stop their march and evaluate.

(An excerpt from the personal log of Keirenaltibus Barancleminous (written by Joshua Groom))
h3. Find Your Purpose

“Find your purpose. Engage in your test. Be forged, and emerge stronger.” – New Steve

Words that were, apparently, at least somewhat lost on our erstwhile party. We began inside the pocket dimension, wearied by trial and combat. The entire place was lousy with rats… disgusting vermin, always scurrying about with their mottled fur and nasty little incisors. They lack proper fangs, by any stretch of the imagination, mind you. To “properly” be considered a fang there is a matter of size and curvature to consider.

We neared our wits end. For exactly how long we traveled, I do not know. At least, not with any certainty. This place… this… strange place… seemed to have an effect on all of us. We became prepossessed of some strange, exotic incarnation of mania. Brother Henderson was the first succumb, rambling to himself, as if he were speaking to several people none of us could see or interact with.

Soon I began to take strange comfort in talking to them as well. It was, in a way as if I had, for a moment at least, glimpsed beyond this reality and conceived of a deeper reality… a strange place I now feel might only be a psychological manifestation… a more comfortable construct for a delusion that could ultimately lull us into abject madness.

On and on we went, passing through this seemingly endless dimension of rats and ravines. Eventually our path led to a hole extending deep underground. There, I caught the distinct sound of some repetitious waterway. I communicated as much to my companions, who like I, now surrounded the pit. Henderson and his niece descended almost immediately while I was still attempting to discuss the details of our findings with the sorcerer.

I’m going to make special note here, in this journal, acknowledging for a moment, the virtues of brazen action. From a tactical standpoint, I am well aware that plans do not survive first encounter with the enemy. Usually, adaptation and risk are a part of any meaningful endeavor, especially with the world slowly coming apart at the seams.
Some decades ago, in my youth, I once followed Lieutenant Jenkins when he charged directly into a hatchery of Tiamat, replete with his particular, and highly unconventional fervor. That battle was perhaps the most pitched and dangerous of my entire life, but the reward for our bravery was a devastating strike that cost the Chromatic Bitch centuries worth of scheming to fully recover losses.

I do, however, believe in measured caution when time permits. There is plenty of glory to find in this world that one need not rush headlong into danger to look for it. Heedless for the trepidation of old men, our party continued on.

I tried to gain entry to the chamber below through the assistance of my companion, Big Bad Jon. The occasionally massive fellow is strong, but seemingly unfamiliar with an uncertain descent, lacking both the eyes capable of conforming to such a dark, underground chamber. I, myself a former denizen of lightless depths, offered my sincerest suggestions on a manner of controlled descent, demonstrating adequate handholds and the proper “shimmy” technique, as an old companion of mine once called it.

Alas, my direction was either insufficient, misguided, or some admixture of the two. He slipped and we both quite nearly suffered a dangerous fall as a result. How I managed to keep my handhold on his shoulders I do not know, but we landed and I tried to walk off the indignity of our descent. Before I’d had much more than a chance to look about the room, I was overcome by the terrible stench. All around the room were piles of flesh and meat, rotting and fetid.

Sickness overcame me instantly, and I had to struggle to maintain composure. As I fought to take in the strange, betentacled statue, struggling to hide my discomfort behind a carefully polished veneer of experience, I apparently failed to take notice of the room’s many sentinels. Things began to happen very fast, and, in my defense, I was torn in that moment between the verge of heaving my morning supply of Everlasting Rations all over the floor, and the surprising visual of seeing my companion’s niece, Alexis, hunched forward over the fountain, lapping up some of the water.

I will, truly, never achieve total comprehension of their strange species, humans. Between their obsession with maintaining and displaying protein stalks, to their snub, simian lips. Proper draconic tongues allow for a wide range of varied and complex pronunciation and vocalization. Our language is so distinct in every nuanced gesticulation of the tongue that I’m astonished they can get by with that childish grunting they pretend can pass for a language…

I digress. Still,Alexis’s confidence and casual nature going forward was, for me, a distinct blend of horrifying carelessness and a near constant delusion of immortality. Both human behaviors, I admit, but frightening regardless of their commonplace occurrence. Their species is truly left wanting for proper self-preservation. I will make a note here for further elucidation in a separate thesis, hitherto untitled (but possibly), “From Ape to Man: How Humans Continue to Prove the Theory of Evolution.”

Yet I find hope in these dark moments that intellectual creativity can strike in even these hellish conditions. I will vet the title of my next book when I have finished correlating a record of our travel.

No sooner had Gravier joined us down in the chamber below when we were attacked. There was a familiar lull to the room, a moment all too memorable for those of us who have seen war and lived through its battles. It is a perceivable stillness that can only lay heavy over scenes of immanent and incredible violence.

The party examined the statue and each fought down their own individual bouts of indigestion. Briefly, out of the corner of my eye, I caught the mage’s giant owl as he cast his gaze upward. Before I could turn and see what he was looking at, there was a beat. Someone said something that I remembered hearing at the time, but cannot accurately recall now that the screaming has stopped. Whoever spoke or whatever they said, their words were punctuated by a flight of arrows, and the ambush began.

From up above, higher in the chamber were a series of small ledges. Each designed, from their obvious use, to house demonic archers lying in wait. These particular demons, a four-armed variety I’d heard about but never myself encountered, had a greenish tint to their skin and wielded two bows each. A purely bizarre and seemingly ineffective fighting style, it proved quite capable against our ranks. It is a well-known facet of their nature that demons have ways of making even the absurd plausibly frightening to mortals.

Yet we were spared immediate death from endless barrages of arrows when Gravier, acting on his instinct and years of experience, laid down a cloud of obscuring mist over the entire party. Without targets to pepper with arrows, the demons hung back for a moment and bided their time. While the others made their various preparations, I took a few steadying breaths and prepared to Sing.

Singing, unlike its less frequently capitalized cousin, is a practice of channeling pure creation through my words of the Song. The Song is played in all of us, through our actions and our lives in every day. It is the totality of mortal life, the sum of our parts. I have learned some of the Words that fill the Song with meaning. Through this dedication and timeless trial and error I have managed to cobble together a system of disparate magic. I have traveled remote worlds to learn to learn the Words of my own heart. I fought wars to get close to ancient draconic burial sites so I could hope to chance across just a fragment of a Word of their private Song.

I Sang, opening up a world of possibility in rich and vibrant tones. The language of the Song pulsed at my lips, guided by my tongue in a butchered mockery of the Words. Even my elegant and practiced tongue—capable of invoking a dragon’s name to the twenty-ninth syllable—fell utterly short of their primordial pronunciation. Their nature, their essence, their being… they were a deep vivid texture set to a backdrop of eternity.

I tried to help coordinate our team through the fog, I Sang out in instructive verse, suggesting through my filking of the infinite lyrics that they should fight better. The Song abided my direction. My comrades moved with greater efficiency and cohesion.

Cosmic eternity on my lips, I watched my teammates exit the fog and attempt to resume the battle. The demons kept patient their stealth, however, because repeatedly I heard my team call out no sight of targets. Gravier rode his owl across the room. I could hear a door creak wide from beyond the confines of gray mist. Then, before I could get a better sense of the world beyond my small gray protective bubble of haze, Alexis screamed.

There was a loud, cracking sound, followed by a distinct thud as she hit the floor, something grasping and suckling sounding landing on top of her. She thrashed, struggling; I could hear her boots making scraping sounds against the stonework floor. She yelled out, “What is this thing!?”

“Describe it!”

“It’s trying to drink my bones!”

I nodded, sagely, “That is a Bonedrinker!” Then, after a puissant moment of silence, I remembered that most of my party were not as well versed in monster lore, adding, “They’re undead!”

Suddenly there was a loud thrum, followed by a whizzing, cracking sound and then a flash of blue light. Through the mist I glimpsed a silhouette of Brother Henderson, hands wreathed in glowing blue, and then his glowing form disappeared, hands grasping at something I think I prefer the mist kept hidden from me. A moment later, the foul beast screamed out in shrieking terror.

I darted out of the smoke line to see Kalira engaging one of the toxodaemons on his perch. My initial casting attempts proved futile. Spell after spell I threw at him, and each he just shrugged off with ease, spraying arrows into the fray indiscriminately. An arrow whizzed by my ear and bounced off the stone statue with a clatter.

“That is it,” I muttered.

With a sharp twist of my wrist, I flicked back my index finger. Strapped to my wrist was a complicated piece of technology I first encountered during an excursion to Abeir-Toril . They are magnificent contraptions, five small tubes along the wrist attached to a line of small string tied to each finger. With a sharp tug, the bearer can produce any of the stored wands without the usually effort involved with retrieving them from a pouch or bag.

I loosed a ray of scorching fire at the demon above us. The magical resistances of demons and devils is truly something of remark. He didn’t even seem to notice the ray as it broke apart and lost cohesion against his chest. Behind me I heard a loud crash, and turned just in time to see another of the demons standing over Big Bad Jon, drawing back twin arrows to plug into the back of his unconscious head. It would seem there had been a struggle between the two, and my companion had lost.

Before I could come to his defense with another attempted ray from my wand, a giant tuft of feathers and beak crashed into the toxodaemon. Gravier’s giant owl bore it to the stone with relative ease and pinned it in place with an angry shout of, “You whoot, mate?”

I turned and then spotted the disturbing tentacle creature as it bore down on Alexis and Brother Henderson. With a sharp flick of my wrist, I brought the wand level with the beast and loosed another ray. Fire shot from a pinprick of light into a screaming ray of white-hot flame. The lance of flame struck it, leaving a line of charred flesh across the creature’s pus weeping torso. Then, before it could regain momentum, Brother Henderson destroyed it with another strike of positive energy from his hand.

The battle ended, we took stock of our loss. Once I moved to inspect her wounds, I realized Alexis was dead. Her uncle now stood over what had been her body, on the verge of losing his composure. The creature attacking her had somehow managed to drink her bones to the point where they could no longer support the weight of her body. It is a hideous and unfortunate end to be certain. My research tells me they achieve this grisly task through some specific form of painful toxin that decomposes bones to liquid like some sort of monstrous bone mosquito.

All that remained of the once young and reckless Alexis was now nothing more than a pile of flesh and fatty tissues. The muscles were completely disconnected, rendering them useless. She was very dead, fortunately for her. Probably a result of massive shock and sudden organ failure brought on when the structure containing them suddenly liquefied. I’m certain she was dead before the moment that it drank her spine and skull; mammals are, after all, very reliant on those.

There is a hall leading further into this place, and a fountain still to inspect. While my companions grieve for the fallen and tend their injury I write a document of this to maintain at least some narrative of these grim times. The world around us seems poised on the brink of ending. Tainted monsters lurk in every corner, and the undead seem to be more virulent and powerful than ever before. I wonder at what part in all this the demons play. The horror of corruption and depravity that has gripped this land in turmoil seems to be shepherded by demons. They appear consistently throughout our travels.

Are we a misguided flock looking in the wrong places for a source to save us? Perhaps a trip to Baator is in order, to seek council from the enemy of my enemy. They are altogether an evil breed, but the clever agent of Io can benefit from their disdain for fellow horrors. At least the Baatezu are a vastly more structured and logical form of irrevocable evil. There is something far greater at play here, if I could only put my claw on it.

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The Fate of Mistedge (Act 2)
Failure Shrouded in Mystery

The party’s endeavor to check on Jovak and Jalabar ended in failure.

None of the party members will describe what happened during that horrendous mission, but each one asked gets a far off look on their face that betrays a dark memory that may never again see the light of day.

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Getting Reaquainted (Act 2)
Every new beginning.

After recovering, Desmond Tiny teleports everyone to the new locale at the Isla de Frie. Desmond regenerates Ariel Arcandance’s arm.

The remaining Godsmen of the party have been promoted to full standing members and are now able to enjoy all the benefits of full membership. Ariel goes through the right to become keyed to portal sticks. One more week has passed and the party is good to go.

Current missions:

1) Check the status of Khedesh and evaluate the possibility of getting a Godsman cell going.
2) Assist Wintermoore in dealing with The Negromancer.
3) (Informal) Josh’s Samurai received a letter asking him to come to Mistedge.
4) Investigating Oakwell Tower.
5) Oversee a funeral.
6) Assist Abdul in checking his security measures.
7) (Informal) Comb over the remnants of the Northwest Division.
8) (From New Steve) Assault Vecna’s fortress and force him to reveal the situation of the world.

New Steve’s advice: Recruit at every opportunity.

The Stubblies decline assisting the party going to , Captain Ahab recommends asking Pete. He and Project Satan accompany the party.

They get attacked by a corruption eater while St. Lucky Pete requests that they gather the bodies near him for a funeral ceremony. They make their way through a number of Corruption Eaters [Heroes of Horror p 144] and Taint Elementals [HoH p 145] to the main keep (after letting those Corruption Eaters free to run about the landscape).

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Finishing Up (Act 1)
Mindlinking

Nick Mindlinks with the bone wall.

They complete that portal and receive the psicrystal. Following that they enter a different portal that contained many platforms slowly descending into lava.

To reset the trap, Ariel Arcandancesacrificed her arm in a gruesome device that succeeded in providing a way forward. The party then reached an odd looking ceremonial fountain filled with sand and discovered the corpse of the adventurer that had taken the final word to their last puzzle.

The trap was designed to steal the youth from those who willingly gave it, and Josh’s monk, Nick’s Psion, and Ariel Arcandance each gave enough years of their life to be truly considered old nearing venerable.

Recovering the psicrystal from that puzzle, the group entered into the only remaining portal and discovered that the prior adventurer had nearly completed it. The final location of the psicrystal was only obtainable by a Godsmen, however, and since he was unable to complete the room, he had stolen the last piece to the portal out of malice. Considering the group’s allegiance, they were able to acquire the last psicrystal and joyfully installed them into Project Satan.

After Project Satan was activated, he revealed that the group was currently on the Ever-Changing Chaos of Limbo and that the force keeping him contained was also keeping the area stabilized. As the world fell apart, the group immediately used their portal stick to return to Oswald’s house. Things were certainly different than they recalled, as three months had passed in their absence and the arcane markings heralding the return of Pandorym were faintly etched into the sky.

Thus began Act Two of the campaign.

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Meeting dem Stubblies (Act 1)
While journeying ever onward.
Notes Only

Nick flies forth to meet the stubblies and has a much better time interacting with them than Ariel did. There was a tense moment when Stubbly the Wild was burned and went into a blood frenzy.

They teleport/run to the steel igloo as a party and are attacked by Dunewinders [Sandstorm 159]. They easily dispatch them and get a new psicrystal. Josh takes Stubbly Wallace’s psicrystal and installs that and the new one into Project Satan’s crystalline prison.

They go through gate 2. They come upon the gates of rejection and pass. Then they approach the bone door and fashion it into a person and pass on some genetic material. Noone wants to give it a tongue, especially Stubbly Wallace.

The session ended with the group pondering how to proceed through this new puzzle.

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Completing Portals (Act 1)
All for science.
Notes Only

Nick Thrusts the psicrystal off of the altar to his cohort.

Nick’s Lizard was sent to prison, Nick died, Jon ran off. Josh succumbs completely to Nerull and brings them back. Then they win and Josh is forced to kill his cohort.

The samurai is killed and Cory’s character attacks Nick’s psion because he won’t return the psicrystal. Cory get’s killed due to Jon’s sculpted invisible fireballs. Josh’s only character (previously referred to as a cohort) swallows the psicrystal.

They go through and get stabbed by demons. They go through 6 and Jon crab flying for cover to the igloo. He meets the two Goliaths they were looking for, but doesn’t think anything about it. One of which is decked out in purple knight’s armor and the other (who his friend called “Stubbly”) who both think he’s crazy due to the weird things he asked them.

The game was called after Jon went back to his friends.

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